Saturday, 18 September 2021

Capitalism Has Not Served the American Economy Well But Nancy Pelosi Has Done Little To Ameliorate Its Effects

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Oil-on-Canvas by Rebecca Lazinger, 2020)

In a speech titled “State of American Democracy” at an event held at Chatham House, London on September 17, 2021, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that capitalism “has not served (the U.S.) economy as well as it should”. Yet Pelosi, who argued that “you cannot have a system where the success of some springs from the exploitation of the workers”, has over the years demonstrated her support for corporate interests over those of workers. She has also been a keen backer of the Military Industry and the National Security State in the wasteful wars of regime change which have hugely profited a few while costing her country trillions of dollars that could have been purposefully spent on alleviating poverty, tackling homelessness and giving young people a debt-free college education.

Pelosi’s statement will inevitably invite an examination of her record in confronting the excesses of capitalism in all its manifestations during her political career.

Where was she when the out-of-control investment banks were bailed out after bringing the US economy to the brink of ruin in the late 2000s? Pelosi voted to bail them out because they were "too big to fail". But more damming, Pelosi did nothing to save those who had their homes and properties foreclosed after being set up to fail by the financial institutions.

Indeed, she has accepted election contributions from the criminally-orientated Goldman Sachs which made a fortune by betting against its own clients prior to the aforementioned financial meltdown.

More recently, Pelosi was not active in attempting to extend the moratorium of evictions caused by the prevailing circumstances of the covid-era. Nor has she vigorously sought to extinguish student loan debt.

She is a great supporter of the US National Security State and its financial and morally costly policy of regime change. She stood up and applauded the C.I.A. stooge Juan Guaido when President Donald Trump pointed him out at the State of the Union Address during which Pelosi theatrically tore up her copy of Trump’s speech.

Pelosi's support for Guaido, whom the US was using as the figurehead of an opposition movement designed to overthrow the legitimate government of Venezuela, is not surprising given that she has received campaign money from powerful elements within the Military Industry such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

This sheds light on the hypocrisy of so-called "liberal" support for interventionist wars on the grounds of "humanitarian bombing". It explains why Pelosi the "liberal" not only supported the decade-long endeavour by the United States and its regional allies to overthrow the government of Syria, she opposed Trump's policy of getting out of Syria (the eastern part of which the U.S. illegally occupies), and continues to support the harsh regime of sanctions against the Ba'athist-led nation which after frustrating the concerted effort to destroy it, is in desperate need of all the resources it can muster from reconstruction. In 2019, Pelosi had even tweeted that Trump's anti-Syrian sanctions package was not strong enough.

Today, the wealthiest corporations get away with paying minimal or no tax at all while making tens of billions in profits. That lost revenue together with the trillions lost through futile efforts made at effecting regime change and nation building such as in Afghanistan (described as a “wealth transfer from U.S. taxpayers to military contractors”) could be better spent at alleviating poverty, tackling homelessness, and providing young people with a debt-free college education.

Pelosi is a wealthy woman. If she was genuinely left-wing, she could be described as a "Champagne Socialist". As things stand she perfectly captures the appellation of what is pejoratively termed a "Shitlib".

© Adeyinka Makinde (2021).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Africa Speaks | "So What is New in Africa?" | September 14, 2021


Tuesday, September 14th 2021.

A dialogue with Steve Mulindwa on his programme “Africa Speaks”. We will be discussing issues related to the present and future of the African continent including regional insurgencies, secessionist movements, ethnicised politics and the role of women in politics and national reconstruction.

Interviewee:

.  Adeyinka Makinde

The host was Steve Mulindwa.

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021.

Original Programme Link

© Omega Live TV (2021).



Monday, 13 September 2021

Forthcoming Interview on "Africa Speaks"

I am scheduled to join Steve Mulindwa tomorrow for an interview on his programme “Africa Speaks”. We will be discussing issues related to the present and future of the African continent including regional insurgencies, secessionist movements, ethnicised politics and the role of women in politics and national reconstruction.

It will be streamed live on OMEGA Live on YouTube and Facebook on Tuesday, September 14th 2021 between 7.30PM and 8.30PM British Standard Time.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2021).

Adeyinka Makinde is based in London, England.

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Do Jake Paul and Tyron Woodley have a Legally Binding Contract to Rematch?

The recent boxing match between the much-followed YouTuber Jake Paul and Tyron Woodley, a former welterweight champion of the UFC, the world’s premier mixed martial arts organisation, ended in a split decision victory for the 24-year-old Paul over the 39-year-old Woodley. During the post-fight interview conducted in the ring, Woodley demanded an immediate rematch and Paul responded by extracting a promise from Woodley to have the words “I LOVE JAKE PAUL” tattooed onto his body. But given Paul’s evident reluctance to pursue a rematch which included his 25-hour ‘retirement’ from the sport and Woodley’s reluctance to get a tattoo until he “sees some paperwork”, the question is whether both men already have a legally binding agreement.

United States contract law is similar to that of England's.

To establish whether there is a legally binding agreement, there must be an element of bargain. This is known as 'consideration'. A promise for a promise or a promise for an act would suffice.

So, applying this to their post-fight exchange, both men appeared to make unequivocal promises to the other:

Paul: "If you get the tattoo 'I LOVE JAKE PAUL', I'll run it back"

Woodley: Bet. Let's go!"

Then Paul follows up by saying "deal".

Paul's initial words could be construed as an unequivocal statement indicating a willingness to be legally bound, while Woodley's riposte can be construed as an unequivocal intention to be legally bound by the terms of the offer. In other words, an acceptance of an offer. Both men consolidated the exchange with a firm handshake.

An agreement has been reached.

Now, the saying goes that "All contracts are agreements, but not all agreements are contracts". There must be serious intent; that is, an intention to create legal relations.

This can be a problem where both parties are related (by consanguinity or affinity) or are friends. Thus, agreements made within a commercial setting, here in the ring after a prize fighting contest, are more likely to be construed as legally binding than those which are made in a social or domestic setting.

Evidence of the seriousness of intent is arguably solidified by Jake Paul's brother Logan's eye-socket popping reaction of disbelief in the background when Woodley accepts the condition.

If Paul reneges on the agreement, Woodley ought to have grounds to enforce it in court where an order of specific performance could be reached, that is, Jake is ordered to stage another prize fight, or an order for the payment of damages to Woodley, in lieu of a fight.

Might Paul have a defence?

Paul might argue that as Woodley had already agreed to the idea of affixing a tattoo at a pre-fight conference if he lost the bout, Woodley would only be performing his side of an earlier bargain.

That might somewhat murky the waters although Woodley might want to argue that the nature of their exchange in the fight’s aftermath was enough to create a fresh set of obligations that are legally enforceable.

Ultimately, the existence or non-existence of a contract would have to be determined presumably under the jurisdiction of the laws of the state of Ohio.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2021)

Adeyinka Makinde is a law lecturer who is based in London, England.



Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Africa Speaks | “Should the UN and the World call the War in Tigray a Genocide?” | Tuesday, August 24th 2021

Tuesday, August 24th 2021.

I was part of a panel on “Africa Speaks”, a programme on Omega TV Live which discussed the topic “Should the UN and the World call the War in Tigray a Genocide?”

Panel:

. Dr. Medrid Gebru

. Alex Berhanu

. Adeyinka Makinde

The host was Steve Mulindwa

Original Programme Link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pszy2KN9u64

© Omega Live TV (2021).

NB.

“The Iron Fisted Ethiopian State”. An essay of mine from 2016.

http://adeyinkamakinde.blogspot.com/2016/09/the-iron-fisted-ethiopian-state.html



Monday, 23 August 2021

"War is a Racket": The US War in Afghanistan Validates General Smedley Butler

“I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.”

- Major General Smedley Darlington Butler (1881-1940) in his book “War is a Racket” (1935).

The ending of the 20-year-war in Afghanistan, the longest ever engagement in a single conflict by the United States armed forces, has been variously described as a “catastrophe”, a “disaster” and a “debacle”. Yet this national failure from which parallels have been drawn with the Vietnam War has not had the same ring of misfortune for some. Indeed, long before the recent scenes of calamity and collapse in Kabul brought home with resounding finality the futility of a supposed nation-building exercise, the profit-motive for the initial US invasion and the preservation of an enduring occupation was an open secret to anyone who bothered to embark on the slightest inquiry. The gravy train of American defence spending was in full effect, facilitated by the tentacles of what US President Dwight D. Eisenhower prophesied would become the Military Industrial Complex. For the last two decades have witnessed what has been described as a “wealth transfer from US taxpayers to military contractors”.  But the war, apart from confirming Afghanistan’s reputation as the “Graveyard of Empires”, also validates the phrase coined by US Major General Smedley Butler that war is a racket.

The blame game currently being played out in the United States media by the political class risks obscuring one fundamental issue: the centrality of money and the profit motive in the waging of America’s two-decade-long war in Afghanistan.

The invasion of that country had been planned well in advance of the attacks of September 11th, 2001, the event which provided the impetus for mounting a military response including the country's occupation. The United States has long coveted gaining access to the mineral and oil rich Caspian region and Central Asia, and the coming to power of the fundamentalist Islamic Taliban movement was not seen at the time by US policy makers as an impenetrable obstacle.

As the French writers Jean-Charles Briscard and Guillaume Dasquie wrote in their book Forbidden Truth: U.S.-Taliban Secret Oil Diplomacy and the Failed Hunt for Bin Laden, which was published in 2002, the American government had been prepared to accept Taliban rule on condition that they agreed to the construction of an oil pipeline across Central Asia.

Thus, it was that in February 2001, the administration headed by George W. Bush entered talks with the Taliban, a group which along with al-Qaeda had germinated from the remnants of the local and foreign recruited anti-Soviet Mujahideen insurgents which had been supported by the American during the Afghan-Soviet War of 1979-1989. At one point during the negotiations, noted Briscard, the US representatives told the Taliban, ‘Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs’.”

The invasion of Afghanistan which commenced in October 2001, and which led to the overthrow of the Taliban two months later formally inaugurated the war that was ended by this month’s American withdrawal and the swift capitulation of the US-trained Afghan military.

“Operation Enduring Freedom” was described as a “police action”, but it had decidedly mixed results. While the Taliban was overthrown and several Islamist training camps were overrun and their inhabitants apprehended, the main objective of the operation, the capture of Osama Bin Laden did not come to pass. Furthermore, the Taliban remained as a guerrilla force whose control of territory would increase with the passage of time.

It is against this background that the colossal waste of American taxpayer’s money and the corresponding enrichment of American military contractors, as well as members of the Afghan elite can be documented.

The cover for this was the stated goal of “nation building”. In other words, Afghanistan was to be transformed socially and economically into a modern progressive society which would exhibit the panoply of Western values through the creation of strong democratic institutions, the equal treatment of females, as well as a free market economy.

But evidence of the waste of American taxpayers’ money eventually surfaced.

In 2015 ProPublica, an independent investigative news concern unveiled a report which revealed that the United States had blown $17 Billion through a number of uncompleted projects. There was the story of patrol boats which never left the factory and of planes which could not fly. After the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) ruled that the planes, which cost $486 million, were a “death trap”, 16 of the planes were sold as scrap for a total of $32,000. 

The report referred to many more including the $14.7 million spent on a storage facility for the military, which was never used, a $456,000 police-training facility that disintegrated owing to poor construction, as well as a $335,000 unused power plant. It is worth reminding that waste is not an uncommon issue with the Military Industry given the debacles surrounding the development of the F-35 fighter jet and the Zumwalt Class naval warships.

The issue of accountability of these wastages were never satisfactorily addressed by Congress, the Department of Defense, the State Department and SIGAR.

The following year, the fifteenth of the conflict, it was estimated that the war had cost the American taxpayer more than $737 billion and was consuming another $4 million per hour, every day that it continued. The most recent estimates put the total cost at $2.26 trillion which divides into $300 million per day over the 20-year period of occupation.

And who profited from all this? The answer is the Military Industrial Complex; the “network of individuals and institutions involved in the production of weapons and military technologies” that typically lobby lawmakers for increased military spending. They consist of former senior ranking members of the US armed forces, former defence secretaries and a range of companies including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, Northorp Grumman, and General Dynamics.

Needless to say, the value of stock in each of the corporations has increased to extraordinary levels given not only the duration of the Afghan war but also interventions in countries such as Iraq, Libya, Syria as well as the ongoing policy of expanding NATO and ratcheting tension with Russia after the departure of Boris Yeltsin and the coming to power of his successor Vladimir Putin.

For instance, a purchase of $10,000 worth of stock in 2001 is worth an estimated $133,559 in Lockheed Martin; $129,645 in Northrop Grumman; $107,588 in Boeing; $72,516 in General Dynamics; and $43,167 in Raytheon. Unsurprising among the board members benefiting financially from this are an array of admirals and generals who held positions such as the Chief of Naval Operations and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Many names may not be familiar to the public although the name of James Mattis, a former marine corps general who served as a Secretary of State for Defense stands out.

The interlocking and interdependent structure of interests results in a revolving door culture of former military men becoming paid lobbyists and media pundits. The industry is also aided by an array of think tanks and members of congress who receive campaign donations from military contractors and the energy industry.

It is not hard to see therefore why US military intervention has been consistently encouraged and why specifically the war in Afghanistan was allowed to endure for so long: it is clear that the war provided a corporate welfare program for both the defence and chemical industries. The contractors benefited from the numerous projects including those designated as white elephants, while the chemical industries were keen to benefit from the exploitation of Afghanistan’s rare-earth minerals.

When in 1961 President Dwight Eisenhower warned about the “unwarranted influence” by the then burgeoning Military Industrial Complex in his farewell address to the American nation, he might as well have been referring to the conduct the Afghan war. He clearly foresaw the threat it could pose to America’s “economic, political (and) even spiritual” wellbeing.

So far as the corruption of America’s political institutions is concerned, Michael J. Glennon, a Tufts University professor has identified what he terms the “Trumanite” institutions of government, in contrast to the “Madisonian” institutions of state governance prescribed by the American constitution, which consist of an unaccountable collection of former military, intelligence and law enforcement offices whose influence has been pervasive enough to guarantee that America’s national security policy, one of consistent militarism, has essentially remained unchanged through successive presidential administrations.

On the economic front, an earlier speech given by Eisenhower in April 1953 which was dubbed the “Chance for Peace” speech, gives illumination to the claim that the Afghan War can be characterised as a “wealth transfer from US taxpayers to military contractors”.

Eisenhower said that “every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

His words could be extrapolated to mean in present terms that the excesses of the military industry in its ruthless extraction of taxpayer’s money, has taken away the opportunity to get rid of student debt, to tackle homelessness, alleviate poverty, put young people through college and increase spending on scientific research.

The same could be said of Afghanistan, the focus of a “nation building” project. Despite the colossal amount of money directed to the country, in 2015 the World Justice Project ranked the country at 111 out of 113 on the Rule of Law Index. Not only had the goal of creating a more ethical society with strong political institutions failed, it scored poorly in the areas of corruption and the operating of a criminal justice system.

Government services ranging from the prison system to the education system were found to be inadequate or poor. Roads were not built, sub-contractors not paid as indeed were a range of low-tier servants of the state including the police. This meant that to gain an income of sorts, members of the Afghan police were reduced to kidnapping people and then ransoming them to their families.

In Afghanistan, illiteracy and poverty reigned. The money pouring in from the United States stopped at the corrupt elites with a connection to the Afghan government and the US military. Fabulously wealthy Afghans who were invariably government officials of the US sponsored regime who owned ostentatious mansions and castle-like edifices in the upmarket districts of Kabul preferred to rent out the properties to expatriate contractors and corporate employees while they lived in parts of Pakistan and in Dubai.

“War is a racket”, wrote Smedley Butler. “It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope.” These words must surely resonate with any objective bystander when examining the US occupation of Afghanistan.

But any form of national self-examination must necessarily go further than the usual grind of political scorekeeping between the two major parties. For the wars waged by the United States have all had bipartisan approval. Those media figures identified with the “liberal left” are complicit in the militarism that has characterised the post-Cold War era. They subscribe to the doctrine of so-called “humanitarian wars” which fit hand-in-glove with the war agenda constantly pushed by the Military Industry.

This is also true of figures in the Democratic Party establishment. For while Democratic Party Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, theatrically tore up her copy of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address in 2020, she rose to applaud Trump’s expression of support for the US puppet Juan Guaido, the man who was being used by the US National Security State in an attempt to overthrow the legitimate government of Venezuela.

Given this background, it would be difficult to proffer that the expensive foreign adventures of the money-seeking Military Industry will end with the humiliating withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan. Some neoconservative figures are already calling for a redeployment of resources towards applying military pressure against Iran, while efforts aimed at confronting China in the Pacific have been steadily increasing. The American public must, as Eisenhower warned, “guard against” this constant promotion of a war agenda by the combination of Wall Street and military contractors’ who surely have long inherited the mantle of Basil Zaharoff, the notorious Greek arms dealer and industrialist who came to be known as the “merchant of death”.

As the political scientist Chalmers Johnson once noted:

When war becomes the most profitable course of action, we can certainly expect more of it.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2021).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

Sunday, 15 August 2021

About "Der Bomber": Gerd Muller (1945-2021)

Photo: Muller putting the ball past goalkeeper Peter Bonetti during the FIFA 1970 World Cup Quarter-Final in which West Germany defeated England 3-2.

It is fair to opine that Gerd Muller was one of the greatest strikers in world football history.

He was part of the generation of West German footballers who consolidated the resurrection of German football begun by the FIFA World Cup-winning team of 1954. Muller was part of the team that earned the third-place spot in 1970 during which the team participated in two of the greatest games in World Cup history: the 3-2 come-from-behind victory against England in the quarterfinals and the "Game of the Century", the 3-4 loss after extra time to Italy in the semi-finals.

Muller emerged as top goal scorer in the tournament with 10 goals.

Four years later, he scored the winning goal in West Germany's 2-1 victory over the favoured Dutch side in the World Cup Final on home soil.

He was of course a stalwart of the dominant Bayern Munich team of the 1970s and along with the likes of Franz Beckenbauer and Sepp Maier won a slew of trophies including several Bundesliga and the European Cup of Champions tournament (now the Champions League).

He was also part of the West German side which won the European Cup of Nations in 1972.

He was a small, compact man who was tremendously gifted at finding goal scoring opportunities. His record of 68 goals in 62 matches stood for a long period of time before being broken by Miroslav Kloser who needed 132 games to reach 69.

He scored a total of 722 goals in 779 matches, a fitting testament to the prowess of the man who was known by the moniker "Der Bomber".

© Adeyinka Makinde (2021).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.